Shops face prosecution if they sell unsafe 'hoverboards' amid growing safety fears

A 'hoverboard' which has been seized Credit: Inverclyde trading standards

Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Shops face legal action unless they take all potentially unsafe 'hoverboards' off sale amid growing concerns over the potential fire hazard, the UK's chief ombudsman has warned.

Major retailers including Amazon and Argos have pulled the products from sale, as have Tesco supermarkets and John Lewis, which told ITV News it had issued a full product recall for items sold in its stores.

Dean Dunham said retailers could be held responsible for any injuries suffered should the self-balancing scooters malfunction or catch on fire.

It comes after a string of reports claiming many of the items - expected to be among this year's most popular Christmas gifts - have not been fitted with the correct fuses and plugs, meaning they are a fire risk when plugged in to charge.

A self-balancing scooter caught fire while charging Credit: London Fire Brigade

Read: Hoverboards are 'explosion risk', senior fire officer warns

He said shops should also inform customers that it is illegal to ride the boards in public, including on the road or pavements, at the point of sale.

Meanwhile, online retail giant Amazon has stopped selling the so-called 'hoverboards' and other self-balancing scooters amid concerns that they could explode, while Argos confirmed it too had pulled the items.

Swagway, which manufactures items including 'hoverboards' and monocycles, said a "widespread" notice had been sent from Amazon to sellers demanding proof that they comply with safety standards.

Only product accessories - such as covers and carry bags - remain on sale.Swagway insisted its products met the criteria and said it had provided the required proof - adding that it supported stricter monitoring.

A monocycle has also reportedly caught fire Credit: London Fire Brigade

"As safety is on the forefront for Swagway, we applaud Amazon for taking these steps to weed out the low quality boards," the company said in a statement.

"[We] want to note that this removal is not specific to Swagway, but includes 97 per cent of the other branded hoverboards that were also selling on their site."

Meanwhile, according to the Daily Telegraph, Amazon has also reportedly written to customers who have bought hoverboards to throw away their product and claim a refund.

Searches for 'hoverboards' on the John Lewis website come up empty.

Argos confirmed it had removed its line of 'hoverboards' - called the Nevaboard - from sale while further testing is carried out.

"As a responsible retailer, Argos takes customer safety extremely seriously. We have stringent processes in place to ensure that all products we sell conform to safety standards," the company said in a statement.

Any customers who have already bought one will also be entitled to a refund, the statement added.

John Lewis spokesman Daniel Wilson told ITV News that they had sold fewer than 350 'hoverboards' - branded as the Selfy Stick Air Runner - and that they had not been on sale since December 3.

While they have had no complaints, he said, they were recalling them as a "precautionary measure".

Earlier this month, National Trading Standards said 15,000 of the 17,000 self-balancing scooters examined since October 15 had been seized, mainly for having non-compliant electrical components that could explode or catch fire.